This guide is for planning a visit to one of the many campsites in Voyageurs National Park. You can find general information to help you plan your visit including how to reserve your campsite, what facilities to expect at the campsite, and how to plan you route.
In our opinion, camping in Voyageurs National Park is the best way to experience this area.
While the National Park Service has good general information about camping on in Voyageurs, I found the site difficult to navigate and get a good overview of how to plan a camping trip. When we visited Voyaguers in the summer of 2023, spending time camping in the park was a highlight for Finley and Freja. This guide is meant as a starting point for your planning.
See our complete Great Lakes National Park Itinerary.
An Overview of Camping in Voyageurs National Park
Voyageurs National Park is best explored by water. The park is centered around a series of interconnected lakes.
The best way to explore the park is by boat and by staying at one of the many campsites located around the park. Almost all of the sites are only accessible by water.
Voyageurs National Park is large and since you are navigating by water it takes a lot longer to get around this park. Also once you are in the park there are few facilities such as gas and groceries. When planning your campsites, keep in mind how far you want to travel in a day (this will mostly depend on the type of boat you are travelling in).
We chose to stay in our first campsite about 10 miles from our starting point. This took us about 1 hour to get to in the rental boat. You can see more details on where we rented a boat in Ash River in this post.
Camping Options in Voyageurs National Park
There are 137 Frontcountry campsites in Voyageurs National Park. These sites are only accessible by boat. You can either use your own boat, or rent a canoe or motorboat to get to the campsite. Most of the information below is focused on booking these Frontcountry Campsites.
There are also Backcountry campsites that are much more remote. To get to most of these sites, you will need to use a boat (or take a water taxi) to get to a trail to get to the campsite. In addition, some sites also have boats stashed that you will use to cross smaller lakes to your final campsite. You can see more details about booking these campsites on the NPS site.
Other people also use houseboats to ‘camp’ in the park and you can also find lot of campgrounds near Voyageurs National Park or lodges to stay in you don’t want to rent a boat to get to your campsite.
Map of Voyageurs National Park
Front Country Camping Planning
Most people looking to camp in Voyaguers National Park are planning to stay in one of the front country campsites. Here is some general information about the front country sites.
Most of the sites are very well maintained with tables, tent pads, firepits and pit toilets. This was truly one of the best campsites we’ve ever stayed in. There are a few things to consider when choosing the best campsite in Voyageurs National Park.
Is there a dock: If you are using a motorboat, you will need a campsite with a dock. You will need to cross reference a map of the campsites with a list of which camps have docks. The National Parks reservation page has some good information but the map does not have info on which campsites have docks.
You Need a Permit: You should plan on reserving your campsite several months in advance. This is very important, especially if you are trying to create a multi-day trip. Permits are just $10 and can be made online. You can print your permit in advance to have with you at the site.
Decide where you will start: the campsite you choose will be based on where you start your trip. We chose to rent a boat in Ash River and used the map of campsites to select campsites within range of our starting point. This will also depend on what type of boat you use. We rented small motorboats and travelled 10 miles to our campsite (this took about 10 miles). Depending of your experience, if you are renting kayaks or canoes, you should plan on under 10 miles/day.
Decide how to get you the campsite: There are several ways to get to the campsites in Voyageurs National Park. You can use your own boat, rent a boat, or take a water taxi. Many small boat rentals will deliver boats to the visitor center and you can leave your car here for up to two weeks. We’ve written an entire guide on how to rent a boat and ther other options for getting to your campsite.
Camping Equipment and Preparation
The campsites in Voyageurs are considered front country campsite, but since you will be reaching the campsite by boat you will need to pack in everything you need for the night. Below is a general list of what you should pack for your camping trip.
- Sleeping Bags
- Sleeping Pads
- Personal Items
- Toilet Paper
- First aid and emergency supplies
- Bug spray and sunscreen
Water: there are lakefulls of water in Voyaguers National Park, but the campsites have no potable water. You should plan to bring water, finlter water or boil your water before using it.
Wildlife: the campsites all have bear boxes and you should store all your food in these boxes. This will help keep your food safe from bears, rodents and any other critters.
Safety: Many of these campsites are remote which means you should be prepared to be out of contact while camping. We had some cell coverage through the park, but you should be prepared to handle emergencies on your own.
Bugs: Bugs can also be a problem in Voayageurs National Park. Bring bug spray and bug nets to keep bugs at bay. The bugs tend to be worse in the spring or after wet weather.
Best Times to Visit Voyageurs
While it is possible to winter camp in Voyageurs, the best time to visit is during the late spring, summer and fall months. Summer is the busiest time in the park. Below you can see a table of the temperatures throughout the year.
Camping in Voyageurs National Park is a wonderful way to see the park and we loved the quiet nature of the park. You can find more information to help you plan your visit to Voyaguers National Park.
You can also combine your trip to Voyageurs National Park with a night or two on Isle Royale National Park.